Everything you Need to Know About Forward Collision Warning

Everything you Need to Know About Forward Collision Warning

Car manufacturers are working on making vehicles technologically advanced by adding a variety of safety and driver-assistance technologies. Cars have both active and passive safety features. These features assist motorists by alerting them about imminent danger or in some cases taking prompt action if the driver does not respond timely. The innovative and intuitive technologies have been a massive game-changer for car manufacturers. Many car enthusiasts prefer buying the latest car models owing to the presence of these features.

Some safety features are now a standard for every newly launched car, but some are available on select models. Forward collision warning is an active safety feature that is designed to alert motorists if there is a chance of frontal collision. Cars that have forward collision warning system, alert the driver if it comes in close contact with another vehicle risking a collision.

The alerts are in form of audio, visual, or tactical signals. Some advanced versions of forward collision warning can apply a light brake if the driver does not respond and a strong brake if they remain unresponsive. This may not completely stop the vehicle, but it will certainly reduce the speed of the vehicle giving the driver some time to respond.

Benefits of Forward Collision Warning

Safety features are built to assist car drivers in avoiding accidents and this is where forward collision warning comes in. When the vehicle is at risk of colliding with another vehicle, pedestrian, or any object ahead of the vehicle, forward collision warning will help in preventing a crash saving damage to the vehicle and keeping occupants safe.

Forward Collision Warning
  • Some common situations that can lead to a forward collision warning are when:
  • Vehicles are driving closely with limited space in between.
  • During a traffic jam.
  • When the driver is driving fast to cross a green light, but the traffic ahead is held up.
  • A car ahead suddenly slows down to allow a pedestrian or other vehicle to cross.
  • When the vehicle ahead is taking a turn with turning on the turn signal.

How Do Forward Collision Warning Systems Work?

A forward collision warning system is often paired with adaptive cruise control as both systems use a scanning device to determine the distance between the vehicle and vehicles ahead.  The scanner is mounted in the front to detect the distance. The systems make use of a camera, laser, or radar to detect vehicles.

A radio wave is emitted by the radar that determines the speed and distance of other vehicles. The changes are determined by the Doppler Shift of the wave when it bounces off something and returns to its starting point. The laser works in a similar manner with an infrared beam emitted from the hood of the vehicle. When the beam hits another vehicle, it reflects to its source. The distance between the two vehicles is then measured and FCW determines if there is a risk of collision.

In the case of a camera system, there is a camera mounted on the hood of the vehicle that detects a vehicle ahead. An electronic image processor is used along with the camera to determine the risk of collision.

In case the system detects frontal collision there are various ways in which the driver can be alerted. Some systems make use of audio alerts such as a ringing sound, bells, or warning alarm. Some use visual alerts such as simulated brake lights that are shown on the windshield or lights on the dashboard. Other FCW systems use tactical alerts such as the car jerking as the system applies brakes to slow down or the seat belt tightening against the body.

Also read: Guide to Latest Safety Features in Vehicles

Limitations of Forward Collision Warning System

While this safety feature can be beneficial it does come with some limitations that cannot be ignored. As it makes use of a camera, laser or radar, the motorist must make sure that there is nothing on them. Otherwise, if the camera has dust or snow it will not be able to detect vehicles ahead.

Limitations of Forward Collision War
  • Some FCW can only detect vehicles so, in case of a pedestrian or object the system will not alert the motorist.
  • The threshold at which the system activates also varies with speed. Some are activated are not activated at speeds below 40 km/h other only activate when the speed is under 30 km/h.
  • The nature of the terrain can also hinder the FCW. In the case of steep roads, the system may not be able to detect a vehicle ahead.
  • Vehicles approaching suddenly from the side may not be detected by the FCW system unless that come in front by then it may give it very little time to assess the situation.

As these systems may vary with every vehicle, car owners should learn about the capabilities and limitations of the forward collision warning system by consulting the owner manual. This can help them understand how much they can rely on the safety feature and how much attention is required by them during the drive.

Also read: How Drivers Can Avoid Car Accidents in the UAE?


A forward collision warning system is proven to be very useful in preventing rear-end collisions. However, safety features cannot be considered as alternatives for the vigilance and sense of responsibility of the driver. Therefore, while motorists can benefit from such safety features, they should always adopt a defensive driving approach to avoid any unfortunate incidents.